Diversity and Access to Wildlife Opportunities
July 2022 - June 2024
- LCCMR-ENRTF Minnesota
Profound changes with how the American public values and relates to nature and wildlife are occurring. Participation rates in traditional activities associated with fish and wildlife have dropped dramatically putting into jeopardy the funding mechanisms for fish and wildlife conservation and potentially motivations to sustain these resources. In addition, there is an apparent broader disconnection of the American public to the outdoors and wildlife that could lead to substantive negative impacts on human health and well-being which depend on beneficial contact with nature. In response to this challenge, a variety of programs targeting the recruitment, reactivation, and retention of fish and wildlife-based recreationists have been developed. Because of the fundamental social and demographic changes in America that are driving much of the disconnection with nature and wildlife, however, the success of such programs is very uncertain. There is growing recognition that continuation of the conservation enterprise which oversees stewardship of our fish and wildlife resources will likely require more fundamental changes to broaden opportunities and inclusion for diverse communities.
A fundamental problem and opportunity in this endeavor is how to engage the communities that have not been actively encouraged to participate in nature- and wildlife-based activities. Extremely limited information exists concerning the value of and desire for experiences with nature and wildlife from African-American communities in Minnesota as well as the barriers that constrain African-Americans from desired experiences with nature and wildlife.The proposed project will collect information from African-American Minnesotans concerning their values, attitudes, experiences, awareness of, and preferences for learning about, experiencing, or conserving nature and wildlife. This information will be collected during a two-year period in two phases. The first year we will conduct focus groups and in depth interviews with members of the communities to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of their awareness of and connections to nature and wildlife. In the second phase, we will collect more broadly generalizable information from these communities through multi-modal social surveys using established psychometric approaches for measuring values, beliefs, attitudes, motivations, and experience preferences. This information will serve as foundational information across Minnesota for better engaging and understanding these communities. In addition, the information will assist natural resource management agencies to design programming, experiences, and services that match to the motivations and desired experiences of members of these communities. Doing so could increase their participation in nature- and wildlife-based activities and conservation behaviors.